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Thursday, 24th April, 2003, 09:41 AM #171
Novice (Lvl 1)
Originally posted by alsih2o
how you liking that batch o' pictures there old man?Peter M. Ball
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Friday, 25th April, 2003, 12:34 AM #172
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Originally posted by arwink
The other two cause me to swear in polite company
my work here si done
Friday, 25th April, 2003, 07:25 AM #173
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
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The REAL Story
I know what you're thinking, but I'm here to tell you that I wasn't shoved headfirst down a hole by a crazed samurai because I beheaded his brother the Imperial Beekeeper who then turned into a walking corpse and terrorized the province. That's not what happened.
I know, that's what everyone says happened. But who are you going to believe, Haro the pig farmer or me, the guy who's currently headfirst down a hole?
Look, let's cut a deal here. I tell you what really happened, and if you believe me, you pull me out of this hole. If you don't, off with you and a thousand curses on your head for making me waste my time telling you the truth. Though I have to admit I don't actually have anything else to do, being currently upside-down in a hole. Never mind. Fine. Here goes.
First off, don't think I wanted to be High Lord Imperial Executioner Flibberty-Gibbet. No, sir. Who would? It's not like I'm some all-serious, mystically inclined chap looking to perfect my technique, walk the road of demons or anything like that. I cut people's heads off. It's not pretty, it's not sophisticated. It sucks.
Seriously, this is like the worst job in the world. I only got stuck with it because I was late to the meeting and all the other samurai had already decided. Bastards. So here I am, Lord High Cutting-Off-Heads-Guy. I don't even get to be on Iron Chef. The other samurai get the cool jobs. When they're done work they can gather around the samurai water cooler and swap stories about duels they've fought or fair maidens they've rescued.
I've met 73 single women in the last two months. Single. Ha. Each of them is now in two pieces.
"Hey, Executioner! Learn some jokes, they'll laugh their heads off! Har har har."
Hilarious. I hate those guys.
Okay, so Grand Executy Poobah versus the Imperial Beekeeper. Here's where everyone's story is all mixed up. I didn't cut the guy's head off.
Well, I did, but only after he was dead. Look, I don't know if you knew the guy, but the Imperial Beekeeper wasn't exactly the sharpest blade in the saya, if you know what I mean. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the guy was a schmuck. A dope. A doofus. I mean, he was the Imperial Beekeeper, for crying out loud. What kind of a dork gets himself saddled with a title like that? He's the biggest moron in the whole empire.
Okay, he got three golden tael a week and a house to keep all the wine, women and song he could buy. The Imperial Grand Executioner sleeps on the stairs behind the palace. So perhaps he was the second-biggest moron in the whole empire. Let's not get into it, okay?
So this putz, who of course in the five years he's been Imperial Beekeeper has never so much as seen a bee, decides one day he's going to play with the bees.
Just take a moment and think about that. Play with bees. You want to argue the moron bit any further?
Reason I know what he was up to is because he stepped on me on the way to the gardens. After resisting the urge to punch him, I followed the great oaf down the stairs to see what he was up to.
You know, I could probably tell this story a lot better if I were right-side up.
Anyway, Beekeeper To The Shogun strolls into the garden and starts looking for bees. Under a bush. He starts calling them.
"Here, bees, bees, bees..."
I sit on the steps because obviously this is going to take a while. I'm actually worried I might die of thirst before El Keeper Du Bees finds a single honey-producing insect.
But no, turns out if you want to find bees, you call them. In a couple of seconds I hear Bee-Head give a little yelp and there he is, standing in the middle of the garden, with a bee perched on his eyebrow. At first I think he's going to smack it, and he nearly does, but something holds him back and he stands there motionless, the fuzzy little thing crawling about above his eye.
Then there's two. Then three.
Look, I can't explain it. Well, actually, I can, but I'm not going to tell you yet. Sense of mystery, pal, you never had a story told to you? Hey, if you're not even going to pull me out of here, I'm going to tell my story any way I like, alright?
Pretty soon this clown is covered in bees. I mean covered. He looks like he's wearing a fuzzy black and yellow hat, one of those winter hats what you tie down around your ears. Bees all over his head.
I can't help it. It's creeping me out big time. I stand up and call out to him.
"Dude, that's not right!"
He jerks, and I guess he startled one of his wee pals, because he suddenly yells and smacks at his own cheek.
Important safety tip: if you ever have your head covered in bees, and one of them stings you, take it like a man. Cause bees, they hate it when somebody smacks one of their sisters.
He screams and starts dancing a frenetic jig, eventually dropping to his knees and trying to, I guess, beat his head against the ground and knock the angry bees off. Unfortunately, he beat his head into a rock and keeled over right there. I took off then, not because I was freaked out (seen a lot of people becoming dead, thanks awfully), but because by then those bees were like drunk sailors just looking for trouble.
But I figured that was the end of it. Guy stung to death, cracks head on rock, end of story. Hire a new Imperial Beekeeper. I was polishing up my resume for the vacancy when Samurai Fred came to me. He posed in front of a useless stone lantern. I hated him right off.
"Imperial Lord High Executioner."
"I crave a boon, my lord."
Note: they only call me "my lord" when they need a favour. Which is usually, "Could you pretend not to notice that the adulterous countess you've been ordered to decapitate looks like a frightened servant girl with a gag?" You can say what you like about adulterous countesses, but they're always popular.
"Uh-huh. Adulterous countess?"
"No, my lord. It concerns the most shameful death of my brother, Yagumakihagagubi."
"The Imperial Beekeeper. He has suffered a most shameful end and brought grief upon our family."
"Right, with the getting stung to death by the little suckers he's supposed to be so good with. What do you want from me?"
"I want you to cut off his head."
"Isn't it a little late for that?"
"Please, my lord, I implore you."
"You do? How do you do that, exactly? I've always wondered."
"As yet, nobody knows of his death. I wish for the land to believe he has been executed."
"Getting decapitated as a common criminal would be less shameful than being stung to death?"
He just looked at me.
"Right. Okay. But you're asking me to desecrate a corpse. The gods forbid such an act with the strongest of taboos. I would be damned for all eternity if I were to perform such a heinous deed."
"Here are ten golden taels."
"I've never been a religious man."
"On the other hand, I have one heck of a mortgage."
"Fifteen golden taels."
"And I've had my eye on this nice bungalow for the last couple of weeks..."
"Which needs a lot of renovations..."
"Thirty. Will you do it?"
I weighed the solid mass of gold in my hand, and considered the righteous anger of the gods.
I don't think I'm a bad man. I don't think, certainly, that I deserve to get stuffed headfirst into a hole. Okay, so I cut the head off a dead guy. He was dead. He didn't have any use for his head. Not that he'd used it much when he was alive.
Thirty taels, one whack with the sword, and that was the end of it. That should have been the end of it, by all that's holy.
You can probably fill in most of the details of the night after I got paid. All I can say is, there's no such thing as too many beautiful girls in one room, especially if they're all pouring you wine and dancing on the table.
There is, however, such a thing as too many undead horrors crashing through the window, scattering beautiful girls in all directions, and knocking over perfectly good bottles of wine. It turns out that ONE is in fact too many.
"You forget how to knock? What, undead beekeepers don't use doors?"
"You desecrated my corpse."
"Yeah, I cut your... uh... head off."
"Yes. You will pay."
"How'd you get your head back on?"
"You will pay."
"Fine. Here's a tael, have your own party. How'd you get your head back on?"
"The power of vengeance."
"Aren't those stitches?"
"Nice work. You get Suniko the silk merchant's daughter to do that?"
"No. It's not-- Never mind. I am here for vengeance. Vengeance!"
The creepy, loathesome thing lurched forward, hands outstretched. It was totally the grossest thing I'd ever seen. And this is coming from a guy who cuts people's heads off for a living, remember.
But you can get used to anything, I guess. A few bottles of wine and the late Yagu-what-the-heck and I were singing together like old friends. Laughing about those crazy bees.
Which brings me to the sense of mystery I so carefully developed earlier. You see, while we were boozing it up, telling jokes and slapping shoulders (never slap the shoulder of a corpse when you're wearing your brand-new fancy kimono. Ew.), it came out that the former Master of Bee-Fu had actually had a plan when he went down into that garden, looking for bees. His loving brother (and I'm using the word "loving" in what's called the ironic sense, where what I actually mean is "deceitful, murderous, foul-minded freakazoid") had given him what he claimed was a magic lotion which, if he could get a bee to touch it, would render him irresistible to the opposite sex.
Uh-huh. I told you, not the tallest stalk in the rice paddy.
See why I didn't tell you before? Now who's the expert storyteller, you or me? Huh? You going to pull me out of here now or what?
So really, that's the story. The late Imperial Bee-Doofus, once he realised he'd been set up, went off and killed his brother the samurai. Apparently they had a big fight in the family garden, with the posing in front of those useless stone lanterns, I'm sure. Samurai Fred dies, horrible undead corpse gets a job parking palanquins over at Mama Sapporo's Groovy Geisha House, and I get stuffed down a hole.
Oh, yeah. The hole. Well, that party I had? You see, I don't normally spend that kind of money, so I wasn't really very good at judging at what my tab had run up to. Beautiful girls dancing on tables don't come cheap, you know. And the manager charged me for the broken windows, and the "emotional stress" to her girls when Yagu-mumble-mumble stormed in, and that undead son-of-a-domesticated-canine pinched my wallet on his way to wreak vengeance on his brother. So she COMPLETELY over-reacted and stuffed me down here.
So what do you think? What did I do to deserve to get treated like this? How come I'm stuffed down a hole, and a horrible undead corpse is picking up tips and making time with working girls over at Mama Sapporo's? Does that seem fair to you? Come on, now, I told you the story, you gotta pull me out of here. I'm going crazy down here, I tell you.
Come back here. Hey, we had a deal. Come back here, I'm warning you.
Hey, you. Yeah, you. Come here. Look I'll make you deal. I'll tell you a story and if you like it, you pull me out of this hole. Deal?
Pic 1: The Undead Beekeeper
Pic 2: Our narrator (after getting stuffed headfirst down a hole)
Pic 3: Samurai Fred (posing in front of a useless stone lantern)
Pic 4: Our narrator (before getting stuffed headfirst down a hole)
Pic 5: The Imperial Beekeeper, shortly before his ignomious end
Friday, 25th April, 2003, 07:32 AM #174
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
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I got the first sentence walking home from work, and then the conversation with Samurai Fred, and the rest was just typing.
*starts twiddling thumbs, looking up at the sky and whistling*
Friday, 25th April, 2003, 10:40 PM #175
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
i hope it is coming well for our other competitors, i am not a literature expert, but i do believe i have put together the toughest final round ever.
Saturday, 26th April, 2003, 06:47 AM #176
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
less than 8 hours to go and 2 competitors yet to be heard from, i am nervous....
Saturday, 26th April, 2003, 02:06 PM #177
Novice (Lvl 1)
A prayer that I'm not too late.
“As you can see, the mickelmas bee is naturally quite docile,” said the sage happily. “As long as the queen is not threatened the hive will not treat you as any danger at all.” As he was speaking, the bees in question were crawling all over his wrinkled face, along the steel frame of his spectacles and even up into to his thinning hair [pic 5]. Treffin found the entire thing extremely disconcerting, regardless of the Sage’s breezy manner.
It was only two days since their encounter with the river hag and Treffin’s nerves were still raw. He jumped at random noises and hadn’t slept more than an hour straight. Now he found himself wedged into a narrow fissure of rock, with a lamp attached to his helmet, while above him the Sage pottered around a natural chamber filled with stinging insects. In spite of the Sage’s assurance that the bees’ hive would be easy to find, the climb through the deep winding tunnels to the hive’s exact location had worn Treffin’s nerves thin.
“And this,” continued the sage, holding up a thin lump of glowing flesh. “Is the queen. She glows like this to light the way for the rest of the hive in these dark caves.”
To Treffin the queen looked like an overgrown glowworm and not at all as dangerous as the sage seemed to think. Then, with a gasp of terror, the sage dropped the queen. The droopy little monarch turned end over end downward into the shaft where Treffin was jammed uncomfortably. It flew past his face and on down. Without thinking, the young mercenary thrust out his moccasined foot and caught the queen between the top of his shoe and the rock wall.
“Oh good catch,” called the sage. “Just be careful that she doesn’t sting you. The venom is most….”
Treffin heard nothing more, as a magmatic wave of pain cascaded up his leg from the top of his foot, the queen’s venom burning through his veins. As the heat in his body rises, his heart slows down, beating in his chest like the clenching and unclenching of a gauntleted fist. His eyesight darkened to black and the tight rock walls fell away. The burning of the venom infected every aspect of his being; he heard burning in his ears and smelt it in his nostrils; he tasted fire and his eyesight was an agonizing cinder black.
Then there was nothing; no sight, no feeling, no sound. Treffin wondered if this was death.
“You are not dead,” said a voice heavy with weariness.
“Who said that?” asked Treffin, surprised to find that he had a voice.
“I did; you did; we did.” A figure emerged from the darkness, as though the shadows were mist that had simply dissipated under the warmth of an unseen sun. Dressed in a simple robe of white homespun, the individual was about Treffin’s height and seemed vaguely familiar. But he was frail beyond description, his skin hanging on his frame. His long hair was bleached white by time and his eyes had sunken deep into his skull. In spite of the lightness and simplicity of his clothing, he seemed weighed down, as if by crushing burdens. [pic 1]
“What?” asked Treffin. “I don’t understand.”
“Because of the supernatural powers of the queen bee’s venom, I have this one moment to meet with you here,” answered the ancient.
“Where is here?”
“That is not important. What matters is what I have to show you.”
Around Treffin the darkness he perceived gave way to light, to images of life, though there was no sound to hear. He and the ancient figure stood in the village square of Treffin’s home. The morning sun was up and they were looking south, towards the small stone shrine. Standing in front of the shrine, Treffin could see himself; or at least an older version of himself. He was dressed in an expensive looking suit of exotic armour. He was standing proud and Treffin was pleased to see himself so well adorned and clearly successful. Mercenary life seemed to agree with him. [pic 3]
“Marvelous,” he said admiringly.
“Do you think so?” asked the ancient figure. “So did I once.”
The viewpoint of Treffin’s vision shifted and he was suddenly looking north from where he had just seen himself standing as an older warrior. Scattered about the square were armed soldiers, equipped as he was. Also amongst them were several bald men with white painted faces and heavy, dark robes. They looked like priests of some kind but there was something frightening about them. As he watched, Treffin saw two of the robed men emerge from the village festhall. Between them they led the headman’s son, Treffin’s life-long friend, his hands tied behind his back with stout cords.
They dragged him to the middle of the village square. They forced him to his knees, with his head pressed against a butcher’s chopping block. With a single stroke a third priest sheared the prisoner’s head from his shoulders. Treffin could not believe what he was witnessing. As the man’s lifeblood soaked the dusty ground, the vision faded from sight. [pic 4]
“What is this you’re showing me?” he demanded of the ancient. “Why am I overseeing the execution of my friend?”
“Because they paid you,” was the reply. “And you’re always on the lookout for more money. That’s why you took the contract with the cult in the first place, and why you persisted with them, even after their orders began to destroy you within; your lust for money crushed your conscience, your soul, all that is good about you.”
“How can you say this?”
“Because I am you, you fool,” said the ancient. Treffin could not respond to this, as the darkness crowded in again. The weary figure explained himself. “Service to the cult, and others like them, will make you the most successful mercenary leader that history has ever known. But in being so, you will do evil things, unfathomable things, and the people of the lands will come to loathe you. Eventually your career of violence will be ended and you will be accursed, with immortality.”
“Immortality doesn’t sound like a curse,” said Treffin, trying to make sense of the story he was being told.
“Does it not? I dwell every day in a stone cell cut into the rock of this very mountain, with walls of adamantine. I pray for death daily yet I know it will not come. I am over seven hundred years old and it is over six centuries since I have laid eyes upon sunlight.”
“You are me?” asked Treffin, the horrible realization of all he was witnessing making itself unavoidable. The ancient had one further statement to make before he vanished.
“Do not waste this chance,” it urged. “Listen to the sage and live to one day die.”
The blackness gripped him again and his eyes burned beneath clenched lids. A wave of something cool passed through him and the fire began to abate. The soft sound of bird calls wormed its way into his head and he realized that he was lying on the cool, shaded grass outside the entrance to the caves of the mickelmas bee hive. Daring to peer through squinted eyes for just a moment. He caught sight of the sage leaning over him for just a moment before the pain of the afternoon sunlight caused him to shut his eyes again.
“Oh well done lad,” said the sage. “You’re going to live, I think.”
“I am?” Treffin asked weakly.
“Oh yes. Very clever of you, by the way, to go limp like that; most people fit under the influence of mickelmas queen venom. If you’d done that the threat to the queen would probably have gotten us stung to death. Very clever; I guess I’ll have to pay you extra for this.”
At the mention of payment, Treffin’s vision flooded back in all it’s horror. He forced himself into a half sitting position, in spite of the pain, and he gripped the sage with vice like fingers.
“That’s alright,” he said tersely through gritted teeth, his bloodshot eyes blazing ferociously. “No need for more money; it’s all part of the service.” Then he collapsed backwards onto the grass, unconscious.
Saturday, 26th April, 2003, 02:09 PM #178
Novice (Lvl 1)
Picture 2 is in paragraph four. In my rush to finish my story I forgot to reference this one directly.
Saturday, 26th April, 2003, 02:59 PM #179
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
wow, no response from speaker, seems unlike him....i will now choose to worry.
Sunday, 27th April, 2003, 04:57 AM #180
Novice (Lvl 1)
Worries well founded, I am not happy to report.
I cannot meet the deadline, folks. In fact, it seems I have already not met the deadline...
I had left off until the last minute, hoping things would resolve themselves in time for me to write... but they didn't, and I couldn't. I take full responsibility, and apologize profusly to the judges-- Maldur, alsih2o, noone of consequence, and Mirthcard -- as well as my fellow competitors -- particularly Arwink and Sniktch.
I enjoyed writing my first entry, however much I was forced to rush the ending. I only wish I had been able to contribute to the second round.
A Ceramic DM.